Updated: Oct 10, 2020
The pandemic COVID-19 brought about abrupt changes in all our lives. While many people have found themselves working from home or maybe lost their jobs, many schools have been closed and children are trapped at home, unable to see friends and loved ones. For many youngsters, such a dramatic shift of routine was quite disturbing.
As lock-down restrictions gradually ease and some schools re-open, supporting our children through the coming weeks and months will be vital to their long-term well-being. Most children have mixed feelings about school, but whether your child loves or hates school they are likely to be worried by any form of change.
When your children do return to school it will likely look very different from before. They may only attend two or three days of the week, find that they're in a smaller class, have a different teacher, or are unable to sit next to their classmates. Play equipment areas may also be off-limits, and keeping social distancing is likely to be tough, especially for the younger ones.
If you have more than one child, each may experience different feelings about going back to school so listen to them on a one-on-one basis. This will prevent them from picking up anxieties from each other or potentially making the situation more difficult.
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN TO TALK
It can be tough for children to talk about their experiences and emotions. Often the reason for this is not that a child has nothing to say, but that no-one has asked them the right question. Look to ask your children open questions to prompt a conversation. Good questions to ask include;
- What are you looking forward to about going back to school?
- Which friends and teachers are you excited to see?
- What things about going back to school do you think you will find easy? What do you think will be difficult?
Be sure to continue the conversation once your child has returned to school too. Avoid asking closed questions that they can simply respond to with a yes or no; focus on asking what was good, what was bad, who they interacted with, and what they're looking forward to tomorrow or the next day they're due at school.
START MAKING A ROUTINE
Many of us may have let our children adopt a slacker routine during the lockdown. Bedtime times may have gotten later. Eating patterns may have changed. The urgency to be dressed on time may have fallen by the wayside.
All those things are okay. We haven't been living in regular times and you shouldn’t punish yourself, or your children, for taking a more relaxed approach. If you know when your children will be returning to school you can start to adjust bedtimes and reacquaint them with being out of bed and dressed earlier in the morning. Involve your children in the preparation; get them to help with washing their uniform or ensuring their school bag is ready
KEEP CHILDREN MOTIVATED
When your children do return to school, plan in fun and rewarding activities to help keep them motivated. These can form part of your new routine, such as allowing them to play videogames or eat their favorite snack when they get home from school.
If your children were doing more of these ‘fun’ things during the lockdown, this could also help reduce the sense of change they'll be feeling. You can then use this as an additional means of reassuring your children by focusing on what has remained consistent in recent weeks.
With this in mind, try to maintain family activities that you may have set up during lock down. If you play a board game together for an hour each evening or take a walk outside, keep doing these. The end of lockdown doesn’t mean you have to return to all your old habits, so be sure to maintain some of the positive changes you may have introduced to your life! Spending quality time with your kids is one of them.
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